I should have shed my pride. What good is pride? - TonyHoagland

A poem by Tony Hoagland and some analysis/notes below

Doing This
- Tony Hoagland

I'm driving back and forth
on the gravel lane
before the two-room, stucco house

of the woman I love. She's inside,
making love with a woman
whose white car is parked in the driveway

and it, this car, disturbs me
more than anything. It sticks out of itself
so far into my life. Each time I pass,

I know, with a ten-pound sadness in my chest,
that I can't keep doing this.
And now I realize, far too late,

I should have fought for her, should have
wept and begged and made the full,
hair-extracting spectacle

of what I felt. I should have
shed my pride.
What good is pride? When you die,

I know they turn you
inside out, to see what portion
of your god-allotted guts

you failed to spend on earth.
The ones who arrive in heaven
without a kopek of their fortune left

are welcomed, cheered, embraced.
The rest are chastised and reborn
as salesmen and librarians.

It's so simple,
and that's what gets me--that every time
I drive up and down this street,

looking at that white Toyota in the drive,
it messes up not just this life,
but my eternity as well.

But I keep doing it,
dragging myself back and forth
over this corner of the world

which scrapes and grinds against me,
like a rock on the bow of a ship.
Etching the errors in my surface

deeper, and deeper. And less forgiven.


This poem by Tony Hoagland sings of how we are trapped by attachment.  We cannot give up our wants and keep feeling bad about what we don't achieve in life. In this case it is the love of a woman, but it could be as true of material possessions or stature.  We keep driving back and forth to the lane of our desires.

We often lose the ability to love because of our ego.  The poet loses out on love, and blames himself that he didn't even try enough; he realizes "far too late." He blames his pride: "I should have/shed my pride./What good is pride?"

And an interesting and funny way of depicting reincarnation.  Tony comes up with the story that people who have not spilled all their guts (in essence given up all their pride) are the ones that don't get a space in heaven.  They can get reincarnated in unworthy occupations -- like salesmen and librarians (I am sure some salesmen and librarians think there is no better occupation).

Tony Hoagland tells us this beautifully with a story instead of spelling out the theories of attachment and ego. This is what poetry does. It boils eternal truth for us, adds a little spice, and then we can enjoy it.

What disturbs us the most is the sign of other people having what we desired.  Jealousy burns us.  Everytime we see the sign of anyone who has achieved what we wanted to, we burn.